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Aghurmi and Temple of the Oracle

The acropolis of Aghurmi which was inhabited until the last century was the first capital of the oasis and the site of the king of Siwa’s palace and the famous Temple of the Oracle of Amon, which was consulted by Alexander the Great in the year 331 BC.

The Temple of the Oracle of Amun dominates the acropolis of Aghurmi. The ancient Greeks identified Amon with Zeus and the Romans with Jupiter, and in fact, during the period of Roman dominion, Siwa became the oasis of Jupiter Amon. The temple, built in the 26th Dynasty during the reign of Amasis II, probably by Greek craftsmen from nearby Cyrene, lies on a North-South axis and has a very simple plan and a Grecizing architectural style. A forecourt precedes two hypostyle halls, which are followed by the sanctuary, the seat of the Oracle and also probably the place where the sacred boat of Amon was kept. This chamber is the only one with inscriptions and bas-reliefs, which are on the east and west walls. Next to the sanctuary is a larger hall where the worshippers waited for their turn to hear the Oracle’s answers to their questions, which could be formulated in many ways, but never orally.

In 331 BC Alexander the Great crossed the desert, starting off from Paretonium (present-day Marsa Matrouh), and went to this temple to ask the Oracle to confer divine origin on him as the son of Zeus Amon. There are many legends and beliefs connected to this temple which in certain respects is still wrapped in mystery – concerning hidden treasures and secret passageways. Moreover, the monument was used as a setting for one episode of the famous video game series Assassin’s Creed.


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